At the end of last week the ICE NewCastle Coal January 2018 index closed at USD $103.95 per metric ton. Foreign exchange trading firm Garuda Berjangka said coal demand has remained high due to high coal demand in China during the winter period.

Based on data from Chinese authorities, China imported 22.74 million tons of coal in December 2017, up from 22.05 million tons in the preceding month. The government of China allowed more imports over this period. Meanwhile, in full-year 2017, China imported 270.9 million tons of coal, up 6.1 percent (y/y) from imports in the preceding year and the highest import figure since 2014.

Garuda Berjangka expects coal demand in China to remain high in the next three to four years as the country's shift from coal to natural gas (its power diversification program as well as part of its efforts to combat pollution) will require some time. China needs time to build gas-fired power plants, while gas supplies from Russia are not enough to cover all demand in the world's second-largest economy.